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First Rechargeable Battery Uses Cheap Carbon Instead Of Lithium

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Researchers from Australia's RMIT University have shown for the first time how a rechargeable battery has the potential for more energy storage than the lithium-ion batteries that are currently available.

The environmentally friendly, rechargeable proton battery could be used to power devices, vehicles, and homes in the future.

Proton Rechargeable Battery

The battery uses a carbon electrode to store hydrogen, in addition to a fuel cell, which is reversible, to generate electricity. The proton battery gets its environmental friendly tag as well as economic and energy edge from its use of protons from water and a carbon electrode.

The proton batteries will be sustainable and cheap as well as help in meeting energy requirements in the future without causing further damage to an already-delicate environment, according to the researchers.

"As the world moves towards inherently-variable renewable energy to reduce greenhouse emissions and tackle climate change, requirements for electrical energy storage will be gargantuan," said lead researcher Professor John Andrews.

Andrews also added that proton battery is one of the many likely contributors that will meet the massive demand for storing energy. Using protons to power batteries has the ability to become more economical in comparison to the use of lithium ions, which are created from scarce resources.

The primary source used in the proton battery created by RMIT is carbon. It is cheap and abundant in comparison to both lithium, which is required for lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged, and metal hydrogen-storage alloys.

Proton batteries can be used for storing electricity from solar photovoltaic panels in households. They can also be used for medium-scale storage on electricity grids as well as to power electric vehicles after being modified and scaled up.

How The Prototype Battery Functions

The prototype blends the best features of electrical power based on battery and hydrogen fuel cells. The recent version of the proton battery combines a fuel cell, which is reversible, to add a rechargeable unit that is integrated with a carbon electrode for storing hydrogen in a solid state.

The protons generated by reversible fuel cell water splitting during charging are carried via the cell membrane. They bond directly with the material for storage with the help of electrons that applied voltage supplies without creating hydrogen gas.

The process is reversed in a supply mode, which is electric. The storage releases hydrogen atoms, and they get rid of an electron to transform into protons again, which then travel back via the cell membrane where they attach with electrons and oxygen to reform water.

An important possible benefit of proton batteries over conventional hydrogen systems is that much higher efficiency is involved, which makes it similar to lithium-ion batteries. The loss factor linked to breaking up into protons and evolution of hydrogen gas is removed.

The study paper was published in International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 

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